One of the biggest issues faced by Google is fragmentation where the vast number of Android devices still run on dated versions of Android OS. And even though smartphones and device manufacturers are one of the bigger issues in this matter, Android App developers are also part of the problem. This is because they tend to skip optimizing their apps to the newest version, and keep supporting the older versions for longer periods of time, or at times even skipping the updates altogether.
App devs do this for two specific reasons, the first being that the new APIs are not in the priority list of the devs because the adoption percentage are really low. Second is when the devs keep supporting an older version of Android on purpose, of which a classic example would be Snapchat which kept supporting its Android Lollipop version for years in order to avoid integrating the permissions needed for Android Marshmallow apps.
The drawbacks of these situations were that the apps would drain more battery than was required, spam notifications, would work with all permissions without letting the user know, and would even crash more often. And Google was pressed by the community to do something about it and now it has announced that starting today all app APKs being uploaded to Google App Store must target at least API level 26.
This means that all APKs being uploaded to Google Play Store must target at least Android 8.0 Oreo and higher. Those apps that are targeting Android 7.1 Nougat or lower will not be allowed to be uploaded on the Google Play Store.
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Google first announced the deadlines for targeting API 26 back in December of 2017, and since August app devs have been unable to upload apps that target Android versions lower that Android Nougat. For users this is good news because the apps being uploaded to the Google Play Store from now on would support new features like adaptive icons, notification channels, background restrictions, and others.